Liverpool Reservist heads for top of the world

29.03.2016

An Army Reservist from Liverpool, who has been implanted with satellite-linked heart monitor, is heading to Nepal to research the effects of altitude on his body.

Lieutenant Graham Stephenson, who serves with 103 Regiment Royal Artillery based in Allerton, is part of a military team planning to climb the North East ridge of Dhaulagiri, the seventh highest peak on earth – without breathing apparatus.

The team of Royal Navy, Army and RAF personnel will be the first to conduct this pioneering work at such an altitude – the mountain is measured at 8,167m.

After six weeks of acclimatization, Graham aims to make the summit around May 20th.

Graham, 33, said: “I am really looking forward to working alongside other soldiers, as well as members of the Navy and RAF, in what’s bound to be a really challenging environment. But it’s also an opportunity to climb higher than I have ever climbed before.”Steph small

Born and raised in Liverpool, Graham developed a love for the outdoors through scouts and the Combined Cadet Force at his school, Liverpool College. In his civilian life, Graham runs an adventure training business, but joined 103 Regiment Royal Artillery and commissioned from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2013.

He said: “The Army Reserve has offered me interesting and challenging training in both a military and adventurous environments. A lot of my civilian qualifications have been gained through my service. This is what really excited me about the Army Reserve.”

This is his second climbing trip to the Himalayas, having previously ascended Kyajo Ri (6,186m) in 2014 with an Army team, and has also completed ascents in the Alps and Andes.

But this ascent is different. A two-inch monitor implanted under the skin on Graham’s chest will upload live data about his heartbeat by satellite link. This will allow the team to see how his heart works under low oxygen conditions – something never before done in a military study.

Expedition leader Surgeon Commander Adrian Mellor said: “Until recently it has only been possible to collect heart rate data at rest due to the size and difficulty of obtaining a clear electrical recording from the heart at extreme altitudes. Now that we are able to do this, for the first time we will have accurate and sustained readings that will help us understand what happens to the heart rhythm during times of very low oxygen supply. This and other studies in conjunction with Leeds Beckett and Oxford Universities will help us better prepare soldiers for deployment at high altitude and understand the body’s response to critical illness.”



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